It’s that most wonderful time of the year Christmas, of course. And, as an independent retailer, it’s your time to shine.

Really play up to your strengths as an independent. You and your staff know a lot of your customers by name so, even though you’re busy, make sure you pay your regulars special attention and help them out.

Basic questions like ’Have you got your stamps yet?’ or ’Have you remembered Sellotape?’ will get them thinking and hopefully spending a bit more.

And how about dazzling your customers with a bit of festive fun? Get staff to wear silly hats, for instance, and raise a smile in store. Or what about putting out a few samples for shoppers to nibble or, if you’re short of space, a small bowl of sweets by the till. It’s these extra little touches that will give frazzled consumers an extra little glow, and hopefully they’ll think ’They don’t treat us this well in Asda or Tesco or wherever".

Being prepared is key to a successful Christmas for consumers and retailers both. Keeping on top of the staff rota is vital as staff going off sick at the busiest time of the year is one massive headache. Make sure you have a contingency plan and know which staff you’ll be able to call on at short notice just in case. After all, there’s nothing worse for time-poor shoppers than waiting in a long queue because only one till is open!

Another golden rule for Christmas is ensuring shelves are kept fully stocked up at all times. You never know when that next rush of customers will come so it’s probably best just to expect them all the time. Make sure the shelves are ship-shape and the promotional bays brimming with goodies.

Another must is to communicate your festive trading hours. A neat notice on the door is a good idea and you could get staff to tell customers along the lines of "Don’t worry if you forget anything because we’re open on Christmas Eve until 11".

Think of the things that are foremost in your mind at a personal level in the run up to Christmas, and consider how they can be applied to your business. That could be pointing out last-minute stocking fillers or reminding people to stock up on mixers.

All that said, I hope you all have a good time business-wise and otherwise. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!